06.04.15

Leahy, Portman Reintroduce Bill To Support Ex-Offenders & Reduce Crime

. . . Second Chance Reauthorization Act Would Extend Successful Programs

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, June 4, 2015) -- U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) joined with Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) Thursday to introduce a strengthened version of their earlier bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Second Chance Act, a law that supports state and local reentry programs to reduce recidivism and provide those leaving prison with real opportunities to rebuild their lives after they are released.

Leahy has long championed the Second Chance Act, which supports programs like the Vermont Court Diversion Program.  The Vermont program allows offenders charged with minor crimes to keep their records clean if they successfully complete certain training.  Leahy, a former prosecutor and the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Justice Department and this program, says these efforts prevent crime, reduce prison costs, improve public safety and save tax dollars. 

When inmates are released from prison they face many challenges, including finding housing and employment, combating substance abuse, and accessing physical and mental healthcare.  In their bill, Leahy and Portman aim to improve these former inmates’ abilities to reenter society, become productive members of their families and communities, and reduce the likelihood that they will reoffend.  Leahy and Portman have worked together for years to reauthorize these programs, which have proven their success in helping ex-offenders reenter society and build stable lives.

Leahy said:  “Too much of our federal money goes to locking people away, meaning that we have fewer resources for programs that actually prevent crime in the first place.  With more than 2 million people behind bars, and 650,000 ex-offenders being released each year, we must support and improve crucial programs that reduce crime and increase public safety.  Investing in these services has been proven to reduce recidivism and bring down prison costs.  It is also the right thing to do.”

Vermont has received six Second Chance grants since 2010, including most recently a grant for $3 million over three years to implement a Statewide Recidivism Reduction Program.  The Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Corrections, Andrew Pallito, says that he sees the positive impact of Second Chance programming every day.  Pallito said:  “The Second Chance Act is not just about giving incarcerated individuals another opportunity to succeed, it is about significantly improving the outcomes we all want for children, families and communities.”

A brief explanation of the bill can be found here, and a sectional analysis can be viewed here.  Leahy’s full statement on the legislation is available here. 

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